Written by Erin Coonahan
With EWH’s BMET Training program in Honduras coming to a close in September, the focus now is on a successful transition of all leadership and responsibility to the Instituto Nacional de Formacion Profesional (INFOP). With EWH´s support, INFOP has created a two and a half year education program for training Biomedical Equipment Technicians (BMETs). EWH and the GE Foundation have worked in providing equipment and training for the instructors of the program and administrative support to create the first full-time degree program in biomedical equipment repair in Honduras. Students enter the program from a technically-focused high school and graduate with a certification from the institution. INFOP’s first group of students is in their second year, and a second class started in June.
INFOP's 2014 BMET Students
A few more projects remain to ensure continued success of the program. One of these projects is an international certification exam for BMETs. Local instructors expressed interest in an international BMET certification exam that they could take and then administer to the graduates of the program. The hope is that this international certification will build credibility for the program and help graduates find work in local hospitals. Over time, hospitals will look to employ certified technicians, which may help to raise the level of competency of employed technicians throughout Honduras.
We began looking for a BMET certification exam in Latin America to administer in Honduras, but found that no exam currently exists in Spanish. Several other organizations have previously begun work on certification exams in other Latin American countries, but none remain in use today. Through conversations with US organizations and experienced individuals, we learned that one of the difficulties in creating a successful certification exam is the inherent issue of building credibility with a new exam. It can take several years to get the word out of a new exam and have its credibility proven by the success of certified employees.
We continue to work towards the design of a successful exam. Through collaboration with an organization that has already built up credibility for a certification exam offered in English, we may avoid this issue of starting from scratch to design and build a reputation for an exam. The challenge will then be the successful translation of the exam into Spanish and ensuring that any country specific topics are appropriately adjusted. We feel that our team in Honduras will be able to achieve this with advice from certification experts and a partnership with a well-reputed certification organization. We hope that graduating BMETs in Honduras through INFOP’s program with international certification will help bring credibility to the program and that hiring certified technicians could help increase the level of technical competency in local hospitals.